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MEDIA REPORTS

WATER, OCEANS AND WETLANDS

This page was updated on: 01/12/10

2005

Water, Oceans and Wetlands Media Report Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2004; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2005

 

UN URGES REFORM OF FISHING SUBSIDIES AT WTO TALKS

At the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Hong Kong, a United Nations environment expert urged adjustment to the over US$15 billion in annual fisheries subsidies worldwide, which amount to roughly one-fifth of fishing industry revenue and contribute to the dangerous depletion of global fish stocks. Three quarters of global marine fisheries are harvested at their maximum rate or beyond sustainable levels. Despite increasing capital investment in the fishing industry and bigger and more powerful fleets, global fisheries production has been almost flat for the last few years.

 

Link to further information

UN statement, 14 December 2005

 

NOVEMBER 2005

 

MIDDLE EAST WATER TASK FORCE ANNOUNCED

Scientists from the Middle East have formed a task force to promote research on water resources, and have agreed to create an online forum to improve science education in the region. The purpose of the task force is to encourage scientific collaboration and promote peace between nations.

 

Link to further information

SciDev report, 23 November 2005

 

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY TRAWL FISHING DECISION NOT ENOUGH, CLAIMS COALITION

The UN General Assembly has reaffirmed its call for nations to take urgent action to protect deep-sea corals, seamounts and hydrothermal vent ecosystems from destruction by bottom trawl fishing, but stopped short of agreeing to declare a halt to the practice in international waters, according to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. The Coalition is seeking a moratorium on high seas bottom trawl fishing to protect deep-sea ecosystems until new international regimes to regulate fisheries on the high seas are put in place. The General Assembly has postponed consideration of a moratorium until 2006.

 

Link to further information

Coalition press release, 29 November 2005

 

NGOS CLAIM VICTORY OVER OCEANS MEETING ACCESS

Concerns that non-governmental organizations might not be allowed to participate in the 2006 meeting of the UN Working Group on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction have been addressed after several government backed away from excluding them, according to the Deap Sea Conservation Coalition.

 

Link to further information

UNGA negotiations: NGOs prevail in retaining right to participate in the future of the high seas

 

“WATER AND CULTURE” THEME FOR NEXT WORLD WATER DAY

The next World Water Day – scheduled for 22 March 2006 – will be guided by the theme “Water and Culture.” The day will be organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The UN first declared 22 March to be World Water Day in 1992.

 

Link to further information

UNESCO web site

 

NEW FOUNDATION ESTABLISHED TO CONSERVE BALTIC SEA

Funding for a new foundation to help protect the Baltic Sea has been secured with a US$63 million donation from Swedish financier Björn Carlson. The funds, which will go to scientific projects and initiatives focusing on improving the condition of the heavily polluted Baltic, will be distributed by a newly created foundation led by Carlson, academy members and officials from WWF.

 

Link to further information

Swedish Investor Donates More Than $63 Million To Fight Baltic Sea Pollution

 

NEW SPECIES FOUND IN FIJI'S GREAT SEA REEF, WWF SURVEY REVEALS

The first ever comprehensive survey of Fiji’s largely uncharted Great Sea Reef, the world’s third longest barrier reef, has revealed a staggering array of life, including a new species of reef fish. The survey was carried out by WWF. 

 

Link to further information

WWF News Article

 

OCTOBER 2005

 

FAO’S FISHERIES CODE OF CONDUCT TURNS TEN

More countries are starting to adopt the UN Food and Agriculture’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries at the national level, according to an FAO report. Over the past 10 years, nearly 22% of FAO members have managed to bring their national policies and laws into complete conformity with the Code, while 26% indicate they are taking steps that will bring them into complete conformity and another 43.5% have at least partially adopted the Code's tenets. Drafted by 170 nations ten years ago after trends indicated that many of the world's fisheries were approaching maximum production levels, the Code contains a series of policy principles, technical guidelines and best practices for conducting fishing and aquaculture in a responsible and sustainable way. 

 

Link to further information

FAO press release, 31 October 2005

 

WORLD WATER MONITORING DAY MARKED

Tens of thousands of concerned citizens in more than 60 countries have marked World Water Monitoring Day 2005 to highlight the importance of clean water. Held on 18 October and organized by the International Water Association and America’s Clean Water Foundation, the event involved participants from all over the world – from Armenia to Zambia – monitoring the health of their local watersheds. The results will provide a unique snapshot of the state of the world’s waterways. 

 

Link to further information

World Water Monitoring Day - Home Page

 

UNESCO APPROVES NEW WATER-RELATED CENTERS

The recently-concluded 172nd session of the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recommended approving the establishment of three new water-related centers under the auspices of UNESCO. They include the: IHP-HELP Center for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee, Scotland; European Regional Center for Eco-hydrology in Lodz, Poland ; and Regional Water Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC) in La Serena, Chile. 

 

Link to further information

UNESCO web site

 

MARINE CONSERVATION GROUPS ASSESS INDONESIA’S CORAL REEF

Three marine conservation organizations have joined forces to assess Indonesia’s coral reef in the wake of the tsunami. The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, Reef Check and The World Conservation Union (IUCN) carried out an extensive survey from 17-31 October 2005 along the west coast of Aceh Province, Indonesia, to determine the impact of last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami on the region’s coral reefs. 

 

Links to further information

Three Leading Marine Conservation Organizations Team Up to Conduct Assessment of Indonesia Coral Reefs

 

SEPTEMBER 2005

 

WORLD BANK WORKS ON NEW WATER STRATEGY

The World Bank is implementing a strategy aimed at providing more effective assistance to countries using water as a vehicle for increasing growth, reducing poverty, and re-engaging with socially and environmentally responsible investments in major water infrastructure. The new strategy seeks to improve water-related services through environmentally-conscious investment in both the management and development of water resources infrastructure. It also seeks to make a significant contribution to halving poverty by 2015. The World Bank now accounts for about 50% of the external financing for water resources, about US$3 billion a year, or some 16% of all Bank lending. 

 

Links to further information

World Bank information, September 2005

 

NEW REGULATIONS FOR MEDITERRANEAN FISHING TAKE FORCE

New fishing regulations aimed at safeguarding the fishery resources of the Mediterranean Sea have entered into force. The measures, agreed by the 24 members of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), are now to be enforced at the national level by all GFCM members. The new measures include a ban on towed trawl nets and dredges at depths greater than 1,000 meters. Mediterranean countries will also require that trawlers use a minimum mesh-size opening of 40mm in the “cod end” section of their nets in order to allow smaller, juvenile fish to escape, thereby conserving breeding stocks. This measure should also help to reduce accidental catches of non-target species. 

 

Links to further information

FAO press release, 5 September 2005

 

FUND FOR INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI WARNING SYSTEM

Thailand has contributed US$10 million to a UN trust fund that will help establish a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. The fund will help to finance capacity-building in expertise, technologies and organizational arrangements for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System's network of national and regional centers. The system is being coordinated by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). 

 

Links to further information

UN News Centre, 26 September 2005

IOC’s webpage on ocean monitoring, 2005

 

DEADLINE APPROACHES FOR KING HASSAN II GREAT WORLD WATER PRIZE

Deadline for applications for the King Hassan II Great World Water Prize are due 30 September 2005. The water prize, an international award jointly established by the Government of Morocco and the World Water Council, in memory of his Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, is awarded to an institution, organization, individual or group of individuals in honour of outstanding achievements in any aspects of water resources: scientific, economic, technical, environmental, social, institutional, cultural or political. The award winner receives a prize sum of US$100,000, a trophy and a certificate and is presented at a special ceremony in conjunction with the World Water Forum. This year’s theme for the prize is “Cooperation and solidarity in the fields of management and development in water resources”. 

 

Link to further information

Statutes of the King Hassan II Great World Water Prize

 

AUGUST 2005

 

UNEP FINDINGS: IRAQI MARSHLANDS ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

The marshlands of southern Iraq – which almost completely vanished under the regime of Saddam Hussein – are showing strong signs of recovery, according to new satellite images and preliminary analysis from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

 

The new findings on the growing extent of the marshes come from the recently launched Iraqi Marshlands Observation System (IMOS), the latest component of UNEP’s multi-million dollar marshlands project. The project, launched a year ago with funding from the Japanese government, is helping Iraq restore the environment and provide clean drinking water for up to 100,000 people living in or near the marshlands.

 

Links to further information

Iraqi Marshlands: On the road to recovery

 

EUROPEAN PROTOCOL ON WATER AND HEALTH ENTERS INTO FORCE

A Protocol on water and health has entered into force in Europe. The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes entered into force on 4 August 2005, following ratification by a minimum of 16 WHO member States. The Protocol aims to improve human health by contributing to the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases. It covers both the provision of safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and the basin-wide protection of water resources. The Protocol calls on countries to strengthen their health systems; improve planning for and management of water resources; improve the quality of water supply and sanitation services; address future health risks; and ensure safe recreational water environments.

 

Links to further information

WHO press release, 3 August 2005

Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

 

JULY 2005

 

UNDP AND SIWI LAUNCH WATER GOVERNANCE FACILITY

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), has launched a new programme – the UNDP Water Governance Facility at SIWI (WGF) – to support developing countries to improve water governance. The facility will seek integrated water development solutions for poverty alleviation and addresses the social, economic and environmental aspects of water challenges. It will also promote South-South collaboration and exchange of experiences and best practices.

 

Link to further information

The Facility’s website

 

JUNE 2005

 

KYOTO WATER PRIZE DEADLINE APPROACHES

The deadline for nominations for the first Kyoto Water Grand Prize will soon expire. The US$45,000 prize, which will be awarded to an individual or organization whose grassroots-level activities address critical water needs of communities and regions, will be awarded at the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City in March 2006. Applications are being accepted until 31 October 2005.

 

Link to further information

Kyoto World Water Grand Prize

 

DEADLINE FOR INTERNATIONAL WATER PRIZE APPROACHES

The deadline for nominations for the Great Man-Made River International Water Prize is approaching. Nominations for the award, which is bestowed on an individual, group or research institute, is 15 June 2005. The prize is announced biennially by the Director-General of UNESCO. More information.

 

WATER AND HEALTH PROTOCOL RATIFIED

The Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes is set to enter into force. The Protocol reached the minimum number of Parties required for it to enter into force as an international treaty in May, when France became the 16th country to ratify. It will now enter into force on 4 August 2005. The aim of the Protocol is to promote, at all appropriate levels, the protection of human health and wellbeing, within a framework of sustainable development, through improving water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and through preventing, controlling and reducing water-related disease. The first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol must take place within 18 months of entry into force.

 

Links to further information

The text of the Protocol

World Health Organization - Protocol on Water and Health

 

MAY 2005

 

UN ATOMIC AGENCY SUPPORTS WATER MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is working more closely with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners to help countries assess and manage limited water resources. The IAEA is supporting UNEP’s Global Environmental Monitoring System/Water (GEMS/Water) programme on water quality assessment, including conducting laboratory inter-comparison testing to ensure accurate and precise measurement of water quality. This collaboration has helped in expanding the networks of laboratories in developing member states. The IAEA is also providing expertise for shared aquifer management projects in Africa, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by UNEP. In recent years, IAEA has been involved in various water-related work, including the use of isotopic and nuclear techniques to protect shared water sources. 

 

Link to further information

IAEA press release, 20 May 2005

 

NEW FAO REGIONAL FISHERIES BODY ESTABLISHED

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has established a new regional fisheries body to promote responsible and sustainable fishing in the southwestern Indian Ocean. The South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), made up of 14 coastal states whose territories are situated within the region, will function as an advisory body to promote the sustainable development and utilization of coastal fishery resources off the shores of East Africa and several island states of the region. It will also promote responsible management and regional cooperation on fisheries policy. At its first meeting, held in Kenya in April 2005, the Commission agreed to establish a scientific committee to focus on fisheries data collection and on providing resource managers with much-needed information on the status of stocks. Delegates also discussed its rules of procedure, the general state of fisheries in the region and options for collaborating with other organizations. Though SWIOFC’s mandate focuses on coastal fishing, a parallel agreement on regional cooperation on high-seas fishing of non-tuna resources is being negotiated.  

 

Link to further information

Promoting Responsible Fishing in the South West Indian Ocean, FAO press release, 4 May 2005

 

APRIL 2005

 

UN, JAPAN TO RESTORE IRAQI WETLANDS

The UN has identified six pilot project sites to help restore the marshlands of southern Iraq following damage reportedly caused during the regime of Saddam Hussein. The pilot projects, funded by Japan, aim to bring wetland management skills to local people and communities through the use of environmentally-sound technologies.

 

Links to further information

UNEP Press Release, 21 April 2005

 

GORBACHEV CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL WATER TREATY

The Soviet Union’s former leader and President of Green Cross International Mikhail Gorbachev is pressing world leaders to adopt a treaty guaranteeing clean water and sanitation for their people. Gorbachev called for a first-ever international water treaty during a recent keynote address to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in April 2005. Such a treaty would enshrine access to water and basic sanitation as a human right, holds nations responsible for providing it and govern how freshwater resources are managed and shared.

 

Green Cross International, the International Secretariat for Water and the Maghreb-Machrek Alliance for Water recently launched an initiative with a view to promoting effective international water governance. A petition campaign launched in March aims to pressure governments to begin negotiations that would produce the covenant. An estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide lack water sanitation services, and five million die from waterborne diseases each year.

 

Links to further information

Gorbachev Calls for Global Treaty Making Access to Water and Basic Sanitation a Human Right, ENN, 18 April 2005
Green Cross International/Water Treaty website, 2005

 

LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN WATER PRIZES LAUNCHED

CATHALAC (Centro del Agua del Tropico Humedio para America Latina y el Caribe) has launched the Latin American and Caribbean Water Prizes. The Prizes are designed to promote the International Decade for Action 2005 – 2015 “Water for Life,” which was declared by the UN General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/58/217. The water prizes will be awarded annually to individuals, communities, organizations or businesses in honor of outstanding local, national or regional water-related achievements.

 

Link to further information

http://www.unesco.org/water/ihp/

 

INDIAN ORGANIZATION WINS 2005 STOCKHOLM WATER PRIZE

The Center for Science and Environment (CSE), an Indian non-government organization, has been awarded the 2005 Stockholm Water Prize. The organization, which is based in New Delhi, will receive US$150,000 in prize money for its contribution to sustainable water management.

 

Link to further information

Announcement from the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), 2005

 

FAO ADOPTS ECOLABELING GUIDELINES FOR MARINE FISHERIES

The UN Food and Agriculture’s Committee on Fisheries has adopted guidelines for eco-labeling of fish caught at sea in a bid to ensure the sustainability of the world’s marine fisheries. The new guidelines are aimed at providing guidance to governments and organizations that already maintain, or are considering establishing, labeling schemes for certifying and promoting labels for fish and fishery products from well-managed marine capture fisheries.

 

The guidelines outline general principles that should govern eco-labeling schemes, including the need for reliable, independent auditing, transparency of standard-setting and accountability, and the need for standards to be based on good science. They also lay down minimum requirements and criteria for assessing whether a fishery should be certified and an eco-label awarded. An eco-label is a tag placed on a product that certifies that it was produced in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. Such tags let consumers make informed choices about what they are buying, so that those who wish to can support responsible food production. In essence, they create a market mechanism that promotes sustainable production methods.

 

“We have seen a proliferation of eco-labels on various products, including food and wood products, some of which have little credibility, confused consumers, caused unfair competition in the market place, and did not promote sustainable practices,” said Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director General for Fisheries.

 

Links to further information

UN Adopts Voluntary Guidelines for Eco-Labeling Fish, UN News Center, 3 April 2005

Eco-labeling Schemes to Support Sustainable Fisheries Get a Boost, FAO press release, 23 March 2005

 

MARCH 2005

 

MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT LAUNCHES REPORTS

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) began releasing its findings and reports on 30 March 2005. In press events at London, Washington, DC, Tokyo, Beijing, New Delhi, Brasilia, Cairo, Nairobi and Rome, the MA presented among others its key synthesis report and a statement from its Board entitled “Living Beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-Being.” The MA reports comprise a total of seven synthesis and summary reports, and four technical volumes. An additional set of about 16 sub-global assessments are to be released separately.

 

Involving some 1,500 experts from across the world, the MA is a partnership among several international organizations, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on Migratory Species, five UN agencies (WHO, FAO, UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP), the World Bank, and IUCN. The MA is governed by a high-level scientific Panel and a multistakeholder Board composed of the participating institutions and government officials, the private sector, NGOs and indigenous peoples.

 

Links to further information

MA website

 

WORLD WATER DAY CELEBRATED

World Water Day 2005 was celebrated on 22 March under the theme “Water for Life.” The day also marked the start of the UN Water for Life Decade, which aims to highlight the central role water plays in sustaining human life, particularly its critical role in maintaining human well-being, environmental health, biodiversity, energy generation, industrial development, and food production.

 

“We need to increase water efficiency, especially in agriculture. We need to free women and girls from the daily chore of hauling water, often over great distances. We must involve them in decision-making on water management. We need to make sanitation a priority. This is where progress is lagging most,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a message to mark the event. “We must show that water resources need not be a source of conflict. Instead, they can be a catalyst for cooperation,” he added.

 

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1992 by which 22 March of each year was declared World Day for Water, in conformity with the recommendations of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) contained in Agenda 21. States were invited to devote the day, as appropriate in the national context, to concrete activities such as the promotion of public awareness through the publication and diffusion of documentaries and the organization of conferences, round tables, seminars and expositions related to the conservation and development of water resources and the implementation of the recommendations of Agenda 21.

 

The International “Water for Life” Decade, established by the UN in Resolution A/RES/58/217, provides the international community with an opportunity to refocus political and global commitment on water-related issues in order to achieve the water-related goals established in the Millennium Declaration.

 

Links to further information

Marking World Water Day, UN to launch Water for Life Decade, UN News Centre, 21 March 2005

UNESCO World Water Day website

 

NEW WATER MANAGEMENT PROJECT FOR NILE BASIN COUNTRIES

The ten countries within the Nile River basin are set to benefit from better access to information on the availability, use and development potential of the Nile resources they share under a new project to improve water management in the region. The project will support basin-wide initiatives to integrate technical data with demographic, socio-economic and environmental information in order to examine how specific policies and projected water use patterns will affect water resources. It will be carried out under the umbrella of the Nile Basin Initiative, and funded by the Italian Government with assistance from FAO.

 

The project will also develop surveys and case studies on the links between water management practices and rural livelihoods and food insecurity. Within this context, a basin-wide survey will be conducted to assess current and potential water use and water productivity in rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. A further case study concerns the analysis and improvement of water productivity through crop management.

 

“The Nile waters bear tremendous potential as a lever for social and economic development, but at the moment, the inability to jointly plan water development, reach agreement on equitable sharing of benefits and attract investment has delayed the use of this resource for the benefit of the people living in the Nile basin region,” said Pasqale Steduto, FAO’s Chief of Water Resources.

 

Links to further information

Nile River Basin Countries to Benefit from UN-Aided Water Management Plan, UN News Service, 2 March 2005

Nile Basin Initiative website

 

UNEP, BASEL CONVENTION SIGN MOU ON COASTAL POLLUTION

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Seas Programme and the Secretariat of the Basel Convention have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to fight coastal pollution. The agreement means the two organizations will support each other with technical and legal training and will cooperate on the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes in order to prevent coastal and marine pollution. Many of these joint activities will be carried out using the 13 Basel Convention Regional Centres (BCRCs) as platforms for regional cooperation with the various Regional Seas Programmes. The 13 BCRCs are located in Argentina, China, Egypt, El Salvador, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Samoa (through the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme), South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay.

 

Links to further information

UNEP/Basel Convention press release, 1 March 2005

UN environmental agency steps up battle against marine pollution, UN News Wire, 1 March 2005

 

UN-WATER UPDATE

UN-Water is the interagency mechanism that promotes coherence in, and coordination of, UN system actions aimed at the implementation of water-related goals contained in the Millennium Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The main purpose of UN-Water is to complement and add value to existing programmes and projects by facilitating synergies and joint efforts, so as to maximize system-wide coordinated action and coherence, and improve effectiveness of the support provided to Member States in their efforts towards achieving the international water goals and targets.

 

UN-Water’s modalities of work focus on activities at the senior programme managers’ level, the country level, and the regional level. UN-Water recently confirmed its terms of reference and agreed its first two-year plan of work. UN-Water is currently chaired by Jamie Bartram of the World Health Organization, and its Secretariat function is maintained by UN DESA.

 

UN-OCEANS UPDATE

UN-Oceans is an inter-agency mechanism that seeks to enhance cooperation and coordination among Secretariats of international organizations and UN bodies concerned with ocean-related activities. It operates as a flexible mechanism that reviews joint and overlapping activities, and supports relevant deliberations at the informal consultative process on oceans and the law of the sea (ICP).

 

UN-Oceans will pursue time-bound initiatives through ad hoc task forces that foster collaboration in existing and future joint activities, including with NGOs and other stakeholders. Three such task forces have been established, focusing on: post-tsunami response; the regular process; and biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.

 

UN-Oceans functions under a distributed Secretariat with the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) as the organizing Secretariat and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission as the implementing Secretariat. The first UN-Oceans meeting was held in Paris and the next meeting will take place from 2-3 June 2005 in New York prior to the sixth session of the ICP.

 

Links to further information

Secretary-General’s report on oceans and the law of the sea

 

GLOBAL MPA DATABASE IN PROGRESS

A project to develop an enhanced database of the world’s marine protected areas is currently in progress. In addition to data on the location and statistics of each site, the database seeks to provide information on regulations and habitats, and is searchable by country, convention/programme, or site name. There are currently around 5000 sites listed, and submissions are welcome to the site.

 

The project aims to help design scenarios for a worldwide network of MPAs and to track progress towards the building of such a network. Headed by the Sea Around Us Project in collaboration with the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas-Marine and the World Wildlife Fund, the project expands upon UNEP-WCMC’s current World Database on Protected Areas.

 

Links to further information

Global MPA Database

 

FEBRUARY 2005

 

MEDITERRANEAN FISHERIES COMMISSION TO BE HEADQUARTERED IN ROME

The FAO’s General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) announced that Rome, Italy, will be the site of its new headquarters. The GFCM is an intergovernmental organization established within the FAO framework and comprised of 23 Member countries and the Commission of the European Union. Its mission is to promote the development, rational management, responsible utilization and conservation of living marine resources in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

 

Links to further information

Mediterranean Fisheries Commission to be Headquartered in Rome, FAO news, 22 February 2005

 

CONGO RIVER TO “POWER AFRICA OUT OF POVERTY

South Africa’s Eskom Holdings, Africa’s largest energy utility, has announced plans to harness the power of the Congo River to generate electricity. According to its supporters, the initiative could play a major role in helping lift Africans out of poverty.

 

The announcement was made at a business meeting co-organized by UNEP with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Energy Council (WEC). The meeting, which convened in conjunction with UNEP’s 23rd Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, examined how the provision of water and energy underpins the sustainable development needs of Africa and can contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Eskom

 

Today, only 64 % of Africa's population has access to a reliable clean water supply. An estimated 526 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity. Eskom Holdings calculates that hydro-electricity from the Congo could generate more than 40,000 megawatts, twice the power of China’s Three Gorges Dam. This Eskom priority project is being accelerated through the peace accord in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The scheme, which will initially focus on the Inga Rapids, aims eventually to generate more than enough electricity to power Africa’s industrialization, with the possibility of selling the surplus to southern Europe.

 

Links to further information

Congo River to power Africa out of poverty, UNEP press release, 24 February 2005

Eskom's Congo River project plans in advanced stage, SABC news, 24 February 2005

Could a $50bn plan to tame this mighty river bring electricity to all of Africa?, Guardian, 25 February 2005

The social and ecological footprint of Afria’s largest power utility, International rivers Network,

 

IRAQ’S WETLANDS SERIOUSLY DAMAGED—REPORT

The first scientific study of Iraq’s Mesopotamian marshes in several decades has revealed widespread ecological damage, while also offering hope that they can still be restored. The research, published in Science magazine, found that the marshes—considered by some scholars to be the site of the biblical “Garden of Eden”—have sustained considerable damage as a result of widespread drainage and agricultural irrigation programmes carried out on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers between 1985 and 2000. According to the report, uncontrolled releases of Tigris and Euphrates River waters after the 2003 war have partially restored some former marsh areas in southern Iraq, but restoration is failing in others because of high soil and water salinities. As a result, functioning ecosystems remain in just ten per cent of the original 15,000 square kilometers.   Previously, the marshes provided a large share of Iraq’s supply of fish, and also acted as natural filters, removing pollution from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers before they reached the sea. Since being drained, though, fisheries have rapidly declined, and salty, polluted water is now affecting marine life.  

 

Links to further information

The restoration potential of the Mesopotamian marshes of Iraq, Science Magazine, 25 February 2005

Garden of Eden can be restored, say scientists, SciDev.Net, 25 February 2005

 

FISHERIES HIT HARD BY TSUNAMI, BUT BUILD-UP OF EXCESSIVE FISHING CAPACITY MUST BE AVOIDED

Local fisheries in Southeast Asia were hit hard by the December tsunami disaster, according to new figures released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The FAO estimates that losses in fisheries and aquaculture total as much as US$520 million. A total of 111,073 fishing vessels were destroyed or damaged, with an estimated replacement cost of US$161 million. In addition, over 36,000 engines were lost or damaged beyond repair, with replacement costs projected at US$73 million. There was also extensive damage to fishing gear such as nets and tackle, aquaculture operations, fishing industry infrastructure and harbors across the region.

 

Responding to the problem, FAO said it has dispatched 22 fisheries specialists to affected countries, with 11 more set to join them. FAO is also working with governments to plan the long-term recovery of fisheries and aquaculture, including creation of multi-year technical assistance and planning programmes and continued delivery of replacement fishing vessels and equipment.

 

FAO has also cautioned against building-up of excessive fishing capacity in reconstruction efforts, noting that excessive capacity was a serious problem in some of the region’s coastal fisheries before the disaster. FAO also suggests that new boats and equipment should match local customs, conditions and fishery productive capacities, otherwise fishermen’s operating costs could end up being higher than their incomes. In this regard, FAO recommends considering “phase-in” periods to bring in new boats and gear to prevent building-up of excessive capacity and allowing time to assess the impacts of new gear types.

 

The European Commission had announced in January plans to transfer about 1,100 European decommissioned fishing boats between five and 20 years old to countries most affected by the disaster. Environmental groups and Green members of the European Parliament have asked that this proposal be examined in greater detail, noting that European boats are not suitable for the local communities impacted by the disaster.

 

“Local fishermen do not want our old boats,” said Monica Frassoni, co-president of the Greens in the European Parliament. “We should be carefully listening to the local communities and providing them with what they ask for. These communities need our help, not our junk.” Frassoni added that the EC’s proposal “perpetuates the ignoble EU tradition of getting rid of excess capacity; this time using development aid as a guise.”

 

Links to further information

Tsunami: Losses in Fisheries and Aquaculture Climb to $520 Million, FAO, 17 February 2005

Tsunami relief: Build-up of excessive fishing capacity must be avoided, FAO, 21 February 2005

Tsunami Impact: EU Advised to Keep its Junk, IPS news, 23 February 2005

 

WATERBIRD CONSERVATION AWARD ANNOUNCED

A new award has been created that will recognize institutions and individuals contributing towards waterbird conservation. The AEWA Conservation Award, named after the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), will be presented triennially at each ordinary session of AEWA’s Meeting of the Parties. The first prizes will be awarded at the opening ceremony of the next session, scheduled for late October 2005 in Dakar, Senegal. The AEWA Award will be presented in two categories—institutional and individual—with a cash prize of US$5,000. The closing date for nominations is 30 April 2005. Details.

 

WETLANDS FORUM ADOPTS DISASTER DECLARATION

Scientists and representatives of intergovernmental organizations have signed a declaration designed to improve the management of natural ecosystems to mitigate natural disasters. The declaration stresses the need for healthy mangroves and other coastal ecosystems that can mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and calls special attention to the contribution of coastal ecosystems to the health and livelihoods of coastal communities.

 

The declaration was signed at the World Wetlands Day Forum on Natural Mitigation of Natural Disasters, held at the offices of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretariat in Gland, Switzerland, on 2 February 2005�World Wetlands Day. The declaration adopted by participants recognizes the impact of the recent tsunami and highlights the need for an ecosystem approach. It appoints the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as the lead agency to promote international and inter-institutional cooperation during and after the recovery phase to avoid duplicating work and wasting money.

 

In related news, the Ramsar Convention has asked Wetlands International to work with Ramsar International Organization Partners (IOPs) to coordinate efforts to bring together scientifically sound advice on wetlands in the tsunami-hit region in order to assist governments in choosing the most effective response measures. The Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group has been established involving Wetlands International, WWF, IUCN, BirdLife International and the International Water Management Institute to combine resources, share information and produce timely advice as and when needed.

 

Links to further information

The Forum Declaration, 2 February 2005

Beyond the Tsunami: Scientists and International Organizations Agree on Principles for the Mitigation of Natural Disasters, Ramsar media release, 3 February 2005

Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group, 20 January 2005

 

NEW SITES DESIGNATED TO MARK WORLD WETLANDS DAY

Countries throughout the world have honored World Wetlands Day by designating sites for inclusion on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. World Wetlands Day, which is held every year on 2 February, marks the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971. Since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other civil society groups have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits. The theme of this year�s World Wetlands Day is �There�s wealth in wetlands � don�t lose it!�

 

New wetlands sites designated this year include four in Mexico, two in the United States, and one in Switzerland. There are currently 144 Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, with 1,420 designed wetland sites covering almost 124 million hectares.

 

Links to further information

World Wetlands Day 2005 webpage

 

JANUARY 2005

 

ASIAN WATERBIRD CENSUS COMPLETED

An initiative to monitor the distribution and populations of waterbirds and assess the status of wetlands across Asia has been completed. The 2005 Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) took place from 8-23 January 2005. The annual assessment is a regional programme aimed at promoting public participation in monitoring waterbird populations and the status of wetlands. AWC covers the Asian region from Afghanistan eastwards to Japan, Southeast Asia and Australasia, and runs parallel to other international efforts to monitor waterbirds in Africa, Europe, West Asia and Neotropics under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census.

 

The data collected by the AWC have been used in various reports and contributes to a range of conservation activities from the local to international level, assisting efforts undertaken under multilateral treaties such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Convention on Migratory Species, and Convention on Biological Diversity. The data also feed into BirdLife International�s Important Bird Area Programme, the IUCN/BirdLife Globally Threatened Bird Update Programme, and Wetlands International�s Waterbird Population Estimates.

 

Links to further information

Asian Waterbird Census homepage

 

CALLS FOR RAMSAR/MEDWET FILM ENTRIES

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and its Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative are calling for entries for the Ramsar/MedWet Award. The award for the best films on water and wetlands will be presented at the Ecofilms Festival, which will be held from 21-26 June 2005, in Rhodes, Greece. The first Ramsar/MedWet Award in 2004 went to Surabhi Sharma�s �Aamakaar Turtle People,� an account of a community striving to protect the nesting grounds of turtles while sand-mining threatens to wash away the coast on which their village stands. The deadline for submission of entries for the 2005 awards is 1 March.

 

Links to further information

Ramsar Convention homepage

Rhodes International Film Festival webpage

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